Jeana’s Favorite Reads of 2022

Welcome to 2023! As we kick off a brand new year, I like to reflect on what I have read during the previous year. And 2022 was a good one, reading-wise for me. I love writing each title down and keeping track of the total I read; with this year’s grand total being 44. That is a big number for me, and symbolic in a few ways, plus, way up from my 30-something number from 2021. I am thrilled to have read the books I did. I hope you are as happy with your 2022 books, too. If not, do not fret, I am sure 2023 is going to be your year!

Of those forty-four titles I read, I would like to tell you about a few of my favorites.  Below are my top ten picks, in no particular order:

BOOK LOVERS by Emily Henry
Nora Stephens is focused, dedicated, loyal, and at times, ruthless. She is a fantastic literary agent who works hard for her clients and does not take no for an answer.  She loves what she does, but her personal life suffers for it.  She is okay with this, especially since she seems doomed to live the same plotline again and again – boyfriend leaves town on what is supposed to be a short trip, boyfriend falls in love with cute, perky small town sweetheart, boyfriend decides to stay in small town, and Nora is left single once again. 

So when Libby, her pregnant younger sister, asks her to take a trip to Sunshine Falls, the setting of one of her favorite books, Nora has nothing tying her to NYC, so she agrees to join her. The pair set off and soon they are quite immersed in the small town culture.

Nora is the star of the show here and I enjoyed getting to figure out what made her tick. At first glance, she is an ice queen who could care less about anyone else, but readers slowly get to unravel the “real” Nora. Emily Henry is becoming one of my favorite authors. Her uniquely drawn characters are the heartbeat of every story and while her stories are being marketed as romances, this book reads more like contemporary fiction, with just a sprinkling of romance.  

While reading BOOK LOVERS I kept thinking of Renee Zellweger’s character in the movie NEW IN TOWN.  It’s one of my favorite movies because of her icy, all business character.  Much like Nora’s character. I adore Nora, Emily Henry, and this book! 

RED RISING SAGA (BOOKS 1, 2 &3) by Pierce Brown
I selected book one, Red Rising, at one of the Library’s Book Swap events. The person who traded it in, described it as a face-paced, science fiction space odyssey. An accurate description, but this saga has so much happening, it is hard to describe it without giving away too much.   

Set in the future, where class divisions are by color, Darrow and his loved ones are considered Reds. Their lives consist of mostly hard, physical labor focused on readying the surface of Mars for future generations. But things are not all they seem and soon Darrow must decide the part he will play in obtaining justice for his people. 

Darrow is a complicated character, as are many of the story’s secondary characters.  And there are a lot of supporting characters, with most drawn so well readers might often wonder who they are supposed to root for.

One note, this series is violent. It occurs almost immediately and continues throughout. While central to the plot, I remember initially being surprised at how cruelly some of the characters were treated.  Please do not let that deter you. I highly recommend the three books I have read so far. 

Debut author Garmus’ main character Elizabeth Zott has a lot going on.  First and foremost, she wants to be a scientist, but getting taken seriously, as a woman chemist at the university level in the 1960s is not an easy feat.  Add on top of this a non-traditional relationship, a pregnancy, the  death of a loved one, a potential new job and a dog and you have got quite the compelling story. 

Thanks to everyone who recommended this book to me. I loved it so much! While considered a historical fiction title, it also contains humor, romance and one of the best supporting casts of characters I have had the pleasure of reading this year. Truly, this book has it all.  It is a gem.

Katy Silver’s mother was her everything – her best friend, her mentor, her guide to figuring out her life – so when Carol gets sick and later dies, Katy is at a loss. She is unsure how to move forward and what her life looks like without her mother. Yes, she is married, but her husband Eric seems like the farthest thing from comforting. She and her mother had planned to take a trip to Italy together, to revisit some of her mother’s favorite places along the Amalfi Coast, so after her mother’s death Katy decides to go alone. While staying in Positano at the Poseidon Hotel she meets a young woman that reminds her of Carol. 

In fact, it is Carol, but a much younger version.  Katy is shocked, but also elated.  She spends time with Carol, but this new one knows very little and Katy is left trying to understand how her mother, who seemed to know everything, could be so clueless about life when she was thirty years old.  This revelation, and other elements of the story eventually help Katy get the closure she needs to move forward with her life.   

Serle has created a nontraditional love story, one between mother and daughter. I loved the description of the Amalfi Coast and getting to “see” all the beauty through the author’s eyes.

A KNOCK AT MIDNIGHT by Brittany K Barnett
I wrote a full review for this one in July, but could not pass up a chance to mention this book again. As I mentioned in that review, I had the pleasure of getting to hear author Brittany K. Barnett speak at a library conference.  Her talk was moving and memorable, as is her book. She uses her debut memoir to not only tell her story, but that of others who have greatly impacted her life.   

Her book details how she has used her passion and expertise to help people who had been harshly, or wrongly, convicted of drug-related offenses. All of which involve sentencing disparities between those individuals sentenced for crack cocaine and powder cocaine drug offenses. The individuals that Barnett works with become more than names on a page or numbers assigned to a prison system. They become someone’s parent, someone’s child, or someone’s friend. While the subject matter can be difficult to hear at times, this book is a must read.

MEET ME IN THE MARGINS by Melissa Ferguson
Savannah Cade dreams of being a published writer, but for now her day job is working with published writers. She is an assistant acquisitions editor for Pennington Publishing.  She likes her job, but her aspirations are higher, and thanks to a chance meeting with Claire Donovan, an editor from a rival publishing house, she just might get her manuscript published.  Savannah is secretly working on changes to her manuscript during a staff meeting and accidentally drops all of her pages on the floor.  While scrambling to pick them up, she misplaces one and the company’s new publisher, who happens to be the son of the company’s CEO, reads a page before handing it back.  

Savannah immediately escapes to a secret nook within the office, and leaves her rumpled manuscript.  When she comes back later that day to retrieve it, someone has organized it and scribbled notes in the margins. Savannah and the mystery editor are soon chatting through notes and her novel is soon ready to send off to Claire.  To complicate matters, Savannah starts falling for the mystery editor as they exchange notes.  This was a fun romance novel, with a hint of mystery.  Plus, it is on the chaste side, for those who enjoy romance, but not the bodice-ripping variety. 

ANSWERS IN THE PAGES by David Levithan
This fictional children’s chapter book gives voice to what a book challenge can look like and how it can affect individuals, families and an entire community. In Levithan’s latest book, a school-assigned reading book is deemed inappropriate by one fifth grader’s mom and soon the whole town is involved.  

Levithan is a master of writing from multiple viewpoints (DASH & LILY’S BOOK OF DARES, EVERYDAY, NICK & NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST) and this book is no exception. He beautifully tells the story through three narrators – Duncan – a fifth grader whose mom mounts the challenge, Rick and Oliver – the main characters of the challenged book, and Gideon and Roberto – two fifth graders who develop a new friendship as they work on a class assignment together. He takes a timely, hot button topic and makes it about so much more than a story about a challenged book. There is something for everyone here; not to be missed.

COUNTERFEIT by Kirstin Chen
I know you are not supposed to choose a book based on its cover, but that is exactly how I selected this one. I saw it at several different bookstores, while traveling, and thought the cover was so interesting.  It features what appears to be a wealthy Asian-looking woman on the cover wearing a large gold necklace and sunglasses reflecting designer handbags; with bright pops of bright blue and bold red making up the background and her clothing. 

This book is written as a confessional, by Ava Wong, a Chinese-American lawyer, who has always been a rule follower. Things in Ava’s life look perfect to outsiders. She is married to a successful transplant surgeon, lives in a beautiful home, stays home with their young son; however, it is all a facade. In reality,  her marriage is not a happy one, she is bored out of her mind and feels bad about not using her expensive law degree, and her young son is so prone to tantrums she would be lost without her nanny’s help.  

So when Winnie Fang, a former college roommate, shows up unannounced one day, Ava is curious. This Winnie shows little resemblance to the shy, bookish college student who left school under mysterious circumstances their freshman year.  She is now fashionable and beautiful.  And if her designer handbag and accessories are any indication, wealthy, too. Ava learns that Winnie is involved in the international business of buying and selling designer handbags, though her dealings are on the criminal side. Initially, Ava claims she does not want anything to do with Winnie’s business dealings, but the temptation is too great, and she is soon working alongside her.

Chen focuses on high fashion, white-collar crime, and the power of friendship and connection as she tells the story.  Plus, the element of deceit is a major player. Readers will have to ultimately decide Ava’s intentions and who is telling the “true” version of events. This is a fun, fast read.

THE MEASURE by Nikki Erlick
One morning the world wakes up to find small wooden boxes have been delivered to every adult, worldwide. Inside each box is a string, some short, others long, and on the outside of the box the phrase “ The measure of your life lies within,” is printed. Quickly, people start to speculate on what the strings mean and why they are different lengths. Many struggle with whether to open the box at all. Soon society has to deal with the repercussions of what they find the strings to mean and how it affects everyday life. 

This book has such a clever, thought-provoking premise. While reading it, I started telling my friends and family about the book, and asking, “Would you open the box?”  It is such a fun conversation starter. I loved how the book unfolded and how debut author Erlick focuses on eight individuals and then weaves their lives together in a way that creates a beautiful, and at times heartbreaking, narrative. Book club members should add this one to the top of their to-read list. I highly recommend it. 

I wrote a full review for this one in November, but could not pass up a chance to mention this book again.  While the setup takes some time, it is worth sticking with it.  

Alice Stern wakes up the morning after her fortieth birthday in her sixteen year old body, on the day of her sixteenth birthday.  Soon she is having to make important, possibly life-altering decisions, without any guidance or help.  At the top of the list is what to do that day. Should she live it as she did originally or mix it up?  Should she simply enjoy the time she has with her healthy and vibrant father or try to alter the events of the day and her birthday party, so she, and possibly her father, can have a different future? 

Straub uses elements of contemporary fiction combined with science fiction to create a beautiful ode to the parent/child relationship. If readers like Rebecca Serle’s IN FIVE YEARS and ONE ITALIAN SUMMER or Jodi Picoult’s WISH YOU WERE HERE they should definitely give this one a try. 


Thanks for taking the time to share in my reflection and reading about my favorites.  I wish you a wonderful new year of reading!